HEAVY WATER– “Red Brick City”
By Colonel Angus
This pandemic that the world has been dealing with has really hit the music scene hard. Bands can’t tour and many bands have had a difficult time recording new music due to logistics. 2020 will go down as being a disaster for the music industry but I’m starting to see a glimmer of hope for 2021 and beyond. Some cool releases have been making their way across my computer this year and HEAVY WATER is one of the better albums that I get to review.
For those that don’t know, this band consists of Seb Byford (guitars and vocal), Biff Byford (bass and vocals) of SAXON fame, Tom Witts (drums), and Dave Kemp (keyboards and sax). Obviously, what caught my attention the most was the SAXON connection as I have been a fan of all things SAXON since 1980. That being said, if you are looking for a SAXON-ish sounding album, you will need to look elsewhere, preferably just go listen to a SAXON disk. Instead, what you get here is a raw record of mainly short tunes that have an eclectic vibe yet still feels cohesive. Only 1 of the 10 tracks breaks the 4 minute mark with “Medicine Man” barely going over. The songs have a very much “come in, do my business, and leave” feel about them. They don’t need to be longer as I feel that they said all they needed to say. Hell, the bluesy “Now I’m Home” doesn’t even muster past 3 minutes yet, as the listener, I wouldn’t have wanted it to be longer and be drowned in unnecessary and meaningless playing. There are moments where psychedelic elements, like in “Revolution” and even more so in “Follow the Moment”, that give the disk a 70s sound. We get a good healthy dose of grunge in “Solution” and “Personal Issue No. 1” which reminds me of SMASHING PUMPKINS’ “Today” but my favorite of the styles is the plodding, SABBATH-y title track. As I mentioned before, this is an eclectic group of songs but somehow they all fit together to make one statement.
My love of SAXON and Biff Byford as a singer and front man should come as no surprise to my readers but I have to admit that Seb has a great powerful voice as well. It doesn’t sound like his dad which is a good thing because there will be no need for comparisons. He has his own voice and there is a power and soul to it that makes it stand out when coupled with Biff’s vocals. Aside from some keyboards here and there along with a nice sax solo in “Follow the Moment”, this is a really stripped down affair of guitar, bass, drum, and vocals. Not much in the frills department which really brings out the organic nature of the tunes. All of this seems like a group of guys bashing out some tunes and not spending years trying to “tweak” the life out of them. All in all a surprising release that on paper would have had me thinking this was going to be SAXON Jr but the results are very different but also very enjoyable. If you are looking for NWOBHM, play a SAXON record but if you are in the mood for something different with a lot of variety with the tracks, then “Red Brick City” will hit the spot.